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Carte de séjour: France launches website for British citizens to apply for residency

The new French government website that allows British people to apply online for residency has launched. Here's what we know about it.

Carte de séjour: France launches website for British citizens to apply for residency
You could apply online for residency in France. Photo: fbxx/Depositphotos

UPDATE: This was the site for use in a no-deal Brexit. There is now a different system in place, click here for the latest information.

 

The French government on Wednesday launched its new online portal that allows British citizens who are already living in France to begin the process of applying for their residency status.

The site allows British people to apply online for the residency papers they will need once Britain leaves the EU, and is only available to people are are already legally resident in France.

Launched with little fanfare, the site is now live on the French government portal here.

READ ALSO France's new carte de séjour site – how does it work and what do I need?

The website was launched as part of France's preparations for a no-deal Brexit. The Local understands the website is in a test phase and changes may be made if problems are reported.

The opening page of the platform, which is in both English and French, contains a message that explains what Britons need to do and presumes Britain's exit date from the EU will be October 31st and they it will be a no-deal Brexit. It makes no mention of what happens if there is a Brexit extension.

“Having a residence permit will be mandatory as of October 31st, 2020 for all people over the age of 18. Until October 31st, 2020, your rights in terms of residency, employment as well as all of your social rights will continue,” it reads.

“You will have a six-month period as of the United Kingdom’s withdrawal date (i.e. until 04/30/2020) in order to request a residence permit.”

Under a no-deal Brexit France will give British citizens a year to obtain a residency permit but they must apply within six months.

Applicants are instructed they need to scan and upload a copy of their passport as well as several documents and then they will receive a confirmation email.

They will then be sent an email to make an appointment at their local prefecture to arrange “fingerprinting, photo and proof of fee payment”. The residence permit will then be sent out to home addresses in France.

READ ALSO LATEST The ultimate no-deal checklist for Britons in France

The Local understands that the British Embassy, who have been working closely with the Interior Minister on issues around residency, were taken aback by Wednesday's launch.

 
A spokesperson for the embassy in Paris told The Local on Wednesday that officials were working with their French counterparts at the Interior Ministry to help prepare the best guidance for how Brits in France can use the online platform.
 
“We urge people not to panic because there will still be six months after Brexit to apply for a residency permit,” the spokesman told The Local.
 
In the case of a no-deal Brexit, British people will have a grace period of a year, but must get their applications in within six months. If there is a deal there will be a transition period that lasts until December 2020.
 
Citizens rights groups in France were also left confused by the sudden launch.
 
Justine Wallington from Remain in France Together (RIFT) said: “Frankly, I think it's premature. I'm not entirely sure what purpose it serves to release it already when we don't yet know if there will be a deal or not.
 
“There could also be an extension to the Brexit deadline. We have approached the embassy and requested clarification.”
 
The website was announced last month by French prime minister Edouard Philippe and is intended to take some of the pressure off the local préfectures who until earlier this year had been processing residency applications from British people.
 
Many had become completely swamped with applications as it is estimated that there are more than 150,000 British people living in France, the vast majority of whom do not have a settled residential status.
 
READ ALSO 
 
While the initial application will be made online under the new system, each application will still be passed on to local authorities where the applicant lives for it to be evaluated.

People who have been living here for more than five years and already have a carte de séjour permenant can simply swap it for the new card, everyone else – including people who have no card and people who have the short-term 5-year card – has to make a completely new application using this site.

“The residence permits obtained before the United Kingdom’s withdrawal date from the EU will remain valid for one year. They will need to be exchanged during this period, including permanent residence permits,” the website says.

Part of the confusion around the site is what exactly people will be applying for, as there are different residency deals depending on whether Britain leaves the EU with or without a deal.

There are also fears that the sheer number of people trying to access the site will lead to it crashing.

But the most important thing to remember is that there is no tearing hurry and no need to panic if all your documents are not to hand right this second.

If Britain leaves the EU with no deal then Brits get a one-year grace period to sort out their residency status – although applications must be made within six months of Brexit day. If the UK leaves with a deal there will be a transition period that will last until at least December 2020.

So although it's good to get things ready, there really is no need to panic.

If you have used the site, please share your experiences here.

 

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TRAVEL NEWS

Amber alert: Travellers to France warned of another busy weekend at UK ports

A week after chaotic scenes and 6-hour queues at the port of Dover, the British motoring organisation the AA has issued an amber traffic warning, and says it expects cross-Channel ports to be very busy once again this weekend as holidaymakers head to France.

Amber alert: Travellers to France warned of another busy weekend at UK ports

The AA issued the amber warning on Thursday for the whole of the UK, the first time that it has issued this type of warning in advance.

Roads across the UK are predicted to be extremely busy due to a combination of holiday getaways, several large sporting events and a rail strike – but the organisation said that it expected traffic to once again be very heavy around the port of Dover and the Channel Tunnel terminal at Folkestone.

Last weekend there was gridlock in southern England and passengers heading to France enduring waits of more than six hours at Dover, and four hours at Folkestone.

The AA said that while it doesn’t expect quite this level of chaos to be repeated, congestion was still expected around Dover and Folkestone.

On Thursday ferry operator DFDS was advising passengers to allow two hours to get through check-in and border controls, while at Folkestone, the Channel Tunnel operators only said there was a “slightly longer than usual” wait for border controls.

In both cases, passengers who miss their booked train or ferry while in the queue will be accommodated on the next available crossing with no extra charge.

Last weekend was the big holiday ‘getaway’ weekend as schools broke up, and a technical fault meant that some of the French border control team were an hour late to work, adding to the chaos. 

But the underlying problems remain – including extra checks needed in the aftermath of Brexit, limited space for French passport control officers at Dover and long lorry queues on the motorway heading to Folkestone.

OPINION UK-France travel crisis will only be solved when the British get real about Brexit

The port of Dover expects 140,000 passengers, 45,000 cars and 18,000 freight vehicles between Thursday and Sunday, and queues were already starting to build on Thursday morning.

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